As the state of the games industry stands, it seemed like there was no better time for Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Future Solider to be released. Realistic shooters with some grounding in reality are becoming the bread and butter of high profile console releases in the waning years of this console generation, the veteran series that is ghost recon should be schooling all the other similar genre games right?
Ghost Recon is a legendary series, it’s the daddy, and Future Solider is actually the forth entry into the ghost recon series, although you wouldn’t know it from looking at the wiki page. Each game has been built in and had expansions released for it well before expansions and DLC were commonplace.
Just because the series was big then though, doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s still going to be the same now. In this every changing industry of gaming, you need much more than a name to be a success. So is this game going to be able to stand up in the crowds of the Call of Dutys and Battlefields, or is it going to get lost in the sea of near identical games.
The question that comes to mind is, is this game too late? We’re in a world where people either love the Call of Duty franchise or detest it with a passion. Future really does itself no favours if it were to be compared to the latest entry in the Call of Duty franchise. Don’t get me wrong, I am in no way saying that this is an inferior game to anything Call of Duty related.
It’s just that stylistically and visually, the games really aren’t all that distinct from one another. This doesn’t do FS any favours when looked at by a layman, there a number of games out in the market today that when looked upon by just anyone, they wouldn’t be able to tell one from the other. And they are all very similar, it’s the little things that define them that really draw interest.
I’m not being fair though, Ghost Recon, while overshadowed by other series, it nothing like Modern Warfare 3. For one, it is actually a pretty good game. Zing.
Future Solider is, at its most basic, a third person, cover based shooter. You take control of a single member of a ghost squad taking part in top secret black ops around the world. The gunplay is what you would expect, take cover on one of the many conveniently placed flat surfaces and occasionally pop out to fire a few rounds. Where this game differs though is how the player chooses to interact and with enemies they encounter.
Ghost Recon is primarily a stealth orientated game; most levels will cause you to fail if an alarm is raised. The majority of gameplay, rather than being long sprawling gunfights are about taking it slow, picking your moment and utilising the equipment and squadmates at your disposal in order to progress through the level covertly and avoiding firefights whenever possible.
In the campaign infiltration is what players well spend a good portion of their playtime doing. To aid in this there are a wide array of gadgets and other equipment at the team’s disposal. Set in a near future, the game is packed with technology that, while not inconceivable, is just ahead of our time. The most useful equipment being optic camouflage that activates whenever the player is in a crouched or prone position. While not invisible, it makes players very difficult to spot as long as they don’t draw attention to themselves.
The camo is just one tool that helps scout the area though, players have a range of equipment dedicated to locating and keeping track of enemy movements for the express purposes of avoiding them or eliminating them quietly. There is a items like the sensor, which works like a grenade, that sends out a pulse and reveals the location of all hostiles within its radius. Or the drone which is controlled by the player and sent up into the air in order to give a bird’s eye view of the area.
There is plenty of opportunity to make some noise though with the range of offensive tricks you get too. There is even the Warhound to play with, and while I’m not going to right out spoil it, it is a lot of fun.
The game encourages players to think through their situation before acting. Picking off sentries while they are isolated and coordinating with your squad mates to take out groups of enemies in unison. While gunplay and simply smashing doors in with all guns blazing is a perfectly suitable and accepted way of doing things (except the parts which require stealth), being subtle and avoiding detection is the preferable alternative and will reward players more if they manage this.
The game is built around teamwork, there is no part of the game where the player is isolated and separate from their squad. This is reinforced by the ability to play any game mode multiplayer. While it is likely that players will want to break off and start to try and be a lone wolf when playing in a group, it is broken down into sections where all four squad members need to be together to progress. Further discouraging the lone wolf mentality.
The events of the game are as you would expect from it. Future Solider follows a group of elite soldiers known as ghost squad as they track weapons being traded in the black market back to their source. The game starts with another squad all dying in an assault on a truck that is trying to smuggle bombs into America from the south. The ghost squad is made up of your typical military stereotypes. There is the smart arse, the hard man, the ideal leader and the player character, who while isn’t a silent protagonist has about the same level of personality.
The plot concerns weapon trafficking, terrorist attacks and an uprising and coup in an eastern country, so nothing too original. In the end though, the story is just a means to send our ghost team on a little globetrotting adventure that sees them go from the sands of Africa to the Russian ice fields and all the way to India and South America.
Features wise, the game’s weapons are very customisable. When the Kinect was first announced, it showed the gunsmith feature of Future Solider, and that image has been burned into my memory ever since. The gunsmith menu explodes the gun into its individual parts, which then in turn can be individually customised by the player depending on their play style.
A number of scopes, grips, gas chambers, triggers and more, the number of variables that can go into a single gun is pretty staggering and adds a very nice level of customisation for players.
This works well with the multiplayer modes the game has. Aside from a regular multiplayer mode that had all the game modes you’ve come to expect from a game of this kind, it also has comething called ‘Guerrilla’ mode. While on the surface this looks like your standard horde mode, beating off eaves of enemies, it is actually more objective based. Players are required to infiltrate an area, take a point and then defend it. It combines both aspects of the gameplay in one mode.
The cycle repeats up until the eventual wave 50 with ‘boss’ waves every tenth.
In a lot of ways, Ghost Recon Future Solider is a by the books kind of shooter. There is so much in the game that is just stock and something you’d see in any similarly genred game. However, it is its quirks and it’s gameplay style that really grabbed me. There is a level of teamwork and coordination that I haven’t seen in games of this sort very often. Whereas most games like this will star a character who is primarily on their own and will cut down countless hostiles single handed, this game actually requires the use of teamwork and a bit of thought.
Future Solider is a smart game that rewards smart play. It’s a game where trigger happy players who run off on their own are probably going to get themselves killed. Aside from its unique features, the game is solid, graphics and gameplay are good, as is the setting and features and aside from a few little bug where AI teammates don’t take positions and force you to reset from the last checkpoint, it is ultimately a well made game.
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